This is a delectable silver-gilt tazza, dating to the end of the 16th century. It is formed from a highly prized Abalone shell, brought back to Europe from the western Pacific. The iridescence of the shell, fascinated collectors prompting them to be richly mounted as objects of wonder. Such nautilus shells can be found throughout the royal collections of Europe, from the Renaissance to Baroque courts. This example is perfect for the age, a real treasure of the sea guarded by three mermaids and dragons. The shell has been used as a shallow bowl, likely for storing rings and jewels (rather than for use as a drinking cup). It is prolifically engraved and chased by an expert silversmith, likely in Augsburg (Germany) famous for its Kunstkammer objects. This is an original piece, not a later 19th-century copy. Such a fine object would have been gifted by the nobility, acting for both status and social currency.
This fine museum-worthy piece has survived in excellent condition, minor wear to the mercurial gilding, where it has been handled and admired for centuries.
OBJECT: Tazza - Ring Stand
DATE: c. 1550 - 1600 A.D.
MATERIAL: Silver-gilt and Abalone Shell
SIZE: 80.57mm x 75.45mm (cup 90.41mm x 63.41mm x 19.42mm)
WEIGHT: 150.4 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. European Private Collection
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